You know your self-storage facility needs regular maintenance, right? Sure, you do. It probably brings to mind things like litter, faded paint, cracked pavement and dented doors. Perhaps in this time of COVID you’re fixated on surface cleaning, air ventilation and traffic flow. But these relate to the physical property. What about your operation’s digital landscape?
You may not think about it, but every day your company’s digital footprint is growing by Sasquatch-size proportions. At a time when your every online action is tracked by cookies and every email is a potential security hazard, now is the perfect opportunity to start cleaning up your virtual assets and online presence. I’m talking about your computer files, software and mobile apps, Internet safety, online business listings, social media profiles, and more.
It’s easy to think your information is safe in a digital environment, but there’s always a security risk. Trouble can come from clicking the wrong link, losing a device or falling victim to a third-party data breach. The goal is to keep your assets organized and accessible to those who need them while minimizing exposure to cyber threats. Consider the following.
Update Your Passwords
Change your digital passwords at least every 60 to 90 days and delete or deactivate any accounts you no longer use. Unless you’re using strong codes, you might be exposing your company information. By the way, “Password” is not a password! Harvard University’s Information Security suggests creating a unique code by converting a phrase into an acronym, or choosing four to five random letters and coming up with a phrase to help you remember them. For example:
- A:IGI,TH! = Acronyms: I Get It, Thanks Harvard!
- JS!!EPP = JustStop!!EnoughPasswordsPlease
Essentially, you want your passwords to be a strong combination of numbers and letters, using capitalization and punctuation. If trying to keep track of them all seems like too much of a hassle, use a password manager to stay organized and secure. This application generates unique codes for each of your accounts and stores them securely behind strong encryption. That way, instead of retaining each password individually, you just need to know the one for your manager.
Back Up Your Data
Cloud-based software has been the de facto platform for the self-storage industry for quite some time, but in a climate of increasing security risks and distributed workforce, you should back up anything you can. This includes information from your mobile devices and laptops, and definitely any business-related information on your desktop computers.
Many backup strategies have emerged over the years, but none as prevalent as the 3-2-1 rule, which advises that you keep three copies of your data (your original and two backups), on two different media, with one copy kept offsite for disaster recovery. Though the term was coined in the 1990s, long before cloud storage, it’s still useful as a guideline. I recommend it with a modern twist: Create three copies of your data (your original and two backups), on two different media, one of which is the cloud and the other an external drive—local, cloud, external.
Reputable management-software providers take this a step further on your behalf and provide redundant backups on the cloud, too, so come hell or high water, your information is always secure. Just remember that any information that isn’t stored within in your management software doesn’t enjoy this benefit.
Update Your Online Listings
If you aren’t using online business listings such as Bing Places for Business, Google My Business, Yahoo and Yelp to promote your self-storage operation, you should be. They’re a great tool for drawing in customers. The catch, however, is you must carefully maintain them, ensuring all information is accurate and up-to-date. This ensures a better experience for the end user and better online results for you. When reviewing your listings:
- Check for accuracy in business name, phone number, email, hours of operation, address and logo.
- Check for reviews and respond to all of them, positive and negative.
- Check for new or previously unused fields.
Creating and maintaining these profiles is important for your operation’s online health and requires little to no technical experience. You can even use a free tool such as Yext or Moz Local to quickly scan your local listings and see if there are any inaccuracies or missed opportunities. Both generally take less than a minute to run and will give you a quick view of more than two dozen sites.
Check Your Social Platforms
Chances are you’re using at least one social media channel for your self-storage business. While it’s important to regularly post content for a continued viewership, it’s also critical to keep your information relevant and secure.
Most platforms will allow you to pin a post to the top of your business page. Take advantage of this by adding eye-catching content, but be sure to change it at least every six to 12 months. Any longer than this and your account will appear inactive.
Properly configure your privacy settings to avoid cyber attacks based on social engineering, which is the practice of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging information based on false pretenses. If your social accounts are unprotected, criminals can access things like employee names, company events and announcements, which can be used to compromise your business. On Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the public-privacy setting is turned on by default, but you can easily change them. Still, avoid posting tidbits such as company job roles, work email addresses and other internal information.
Finally, take a look at any images you’ve posted and remove any that may be old or off-brand. To make a good impression on readers, it’s important to reflect upon the public impression you’re making with photos.
There’s Always More to Do
All these steps provide a great foundation for a clean digital landscape, but ultimately, there’s always more to do. Not a single thing listed above can be done once and never touched again. Setting company-wide policies and staying vigilant are the best ways to ensure your self-storage business stays organized and efficient, in the physical and virtual realms.
Kevin Kerr is the marketing manager for Storage Commander Software, a Temecula, Calif.-based supplier of cloud-based management software and pay merchant services for self-storage operations. To reach him, email [email protected].